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When You're Smiling! Happy World Smile Day!

Uncategorized Oct 06, 2018

I woke this morning thinking about smiles!  I was networking today and spent quite a bit of time discussing the same and have rather belatedly discovered that today is World Smile Day.

There are so many phrases about smiles: “A smile costs nothing”, “Smile and the world smiles with you”, “You’re never really dressed without a smile”

My great grandfather always wrote in autograph books “If you expect the good things in life to turn up, keep the corners of your mouth that way!”

So why do we smile?  Well, it really is quite complex! Smiles can represent everything from anxiety and fear to satisfaction and joy.  Charles Darwin theorised that people developed to smile as a greeting as their social encounters required less and less teeth baring, but some of the most important early work on smiles was carried out by Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne, a contemporary of Darwin specializing in neurology.


“[Duchenne] was doing experiments where he would zap single muscles on the face with electricity and then look at the changes.  His primary distinction was between smiles that came from the soul, non-deliberate smiles, and the ones put there consciously.”  Thanks to Duchenne’s research, scientists who study facial expressions now distinguish between social non-Duchenne smiles and spontaneous Duchenne smiles. Physiologically, whenever we smile, there are 2 potential muscles we activate. The first one is the zygomaticus major and it controls the corners of your mouth. Whenever this muscle only is activated, it’s not actually a genuine smile. Scientists call this also the “social” smile. The second muscle, known to show sincerity is the obicularis occuli and it encircles our eye socket.


Not that it’s necessary to be a scientist to make this distinction: If the smile engages the musculature around a person’s eyes, making the eyes also smile, it’s probably a Duchenne smile, warm, friendly and genuine and not surprisingly, often referred to as a gift.


What do I mean?  “He gave me a beaming smile.”  “I got the most lovely smile from her.”  We speak of these smiles as something we are given – a gift.  As a new grand-parent I can attest to the power of the gift of a baby’s smile. It feels like recognition, an acknowledgement that you are worthy to be in a baby’s company – the most precious gift in the world.


Smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. That’s why we often feel happier around children – they smile more. On average, they do so 400 times a day. Whilst happy people still smile 40-50 times a day, the average of us only does so 20 times. 


Researchers Marianne LaFrance and Agneta Fischer discovered that, overall, women smile a lot more than men. This comes not just from the fact that they might be happier, but also, that socially, it is more acceptable for women to smile. They also discovered that “In general women are more accurate than men in detecting what is really going on with someone by looking at their face and listening to their voice. Women are more likely to tell the difference between a felt and a fake smile.”



Why does smiling matter?

  • Whether “real” or “fake”. smiling leads to release of stress reducing hormones dopamine, endorphins and serotonin  that reduce the negatively effect of stress on your physical and mental health.  That stress relief can boost your mood when you're feeling blue, and may be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression
  • This in turn can lead to lower blood pressure and all the benefits that involves
  • Smiling contributes to stronger immune function
  • The hormones released when smiling can help with pain relief
  • Just the simple act of putting a smile on your face can lead you to feel actual happiness, joy, or amusement. 


Spike Milligan captured smiling wonderfully, so let’s go do it!!


Smiling Is Infectious
Spike Milligan

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized I'd passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile, then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin, don't leave it undetected.
Let's start an epidemic quick,  and get the world infected!








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